The 20 Best Film Moments Of 2014

We ranked this year's big screen standouts from Interstellar to Boyhood

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It's been a fine year for cinema, from blockbusting mega-hit Guardians Of The Galaxy and the latest excuse for Hugh Jackman to show off his six-pack in X-Men: Days Of Future Past, to under the radar Michael Fassbender indie Frank and Scarlett Johansson's turn as a literal sexy beast in Under The Skin.

We've had comedy moments in the form of Bad Neighbours and the actually-better-than-you-think Dumb and Dumber To, dark humour in Calvary and Inside Llwelyn Davis, and gratuitous nipple flashing from a certain Eva Green in the 300 sequel.

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We also saw a brace of star-making turns from Jack O'Connell, the result of a 12-year labour of love in Boyhood and bid goodbye to James Gandolfini and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

To celebrate an (inter)stellar year, we've ranked our 20 favourite cinematic moments.


20 | Fassbender's country retreat – Frank

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Is Michael Fassbender’s papier-mâché head-wearing, Frank Sidebottom-inspired front man a musical genius or a fraud? That’s the question at the heart of Frank’s first act, which sees a band of misfits retire to the countryside to work on their masterpiece. The whole film, though, is a joy.

19 | Eva Green’s clothing phobia – 300: Rise Of An Empire

After causing controversy over her nipples in the poster for the Sin City sequel, Eva Green took to the sea later in the summer for a full-blown full-frontal attack in 300: Rise Of An Empire – worth buying the DVD for this scene alone.

18 | Cousin Marv’s stool – The Drop

(From 1.33 mins) Michael R. Roskam’s Brookyln gangster drama was a somewhat subdued affair, but it did give us a chance to say goodbye to James Gandolfini. Playing fading tough guy Uncle Marv, his ‘that was my bar stool, and that meant something’ speech was reminiscent of Tony Soprano at his most sorrowful, and marked the last time we’d see the legend on screen.

17 | The burning church – Calvary

Having been told he’ll be killed in a week’s time, and having subesquently shot up the local pub (all the while dressed in his all-black-everything priest’s uniform), Brendan Gleeson’s Father James is nearing his wit’s end when the village church is set ablaze.

In the oranges and burning whites of the fire against the charcoal sky and the illuminated sign of the cross, director John Michael McDonagh creates a truly biblical image and one that helps make Calvary one of the most visually arresting films of the year.

16 | Please Mr. Kennedy – Inside Llewlyn Davis

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Not the most likeable Coen Brothers film of recent years, Sixties folk drama Inside Llewlyn Davis did include one scene of sheer, unadulterated joy – this fictional pop song performend by Oscar Issac, Justin Timberlake and, most crucially of all, Adam Driver. Just watch it.

15 | A spray Of L’Air de Panache – The Grand Budapest Hotel

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The finest fictional fragrance of all time debuted in Wes Anderson’s triumphant The Grand Budapest Hotel as the cologne of choice for Ralph Fiennes’ expert hotelier Monsieur Gustave H. In fact, so vital is L’Air de Panache to Gustave H. that it’s the first (and only) item provided by Bill Murray’s benevolent Monsieur Ivan following Gustave’s death-defying and exhausting prison break.

It’s now available to buy in real life.

14 | Jack O'Connell's tower escape – ‘71

In a film that didn’t give Jack O’Connell that much to say, it was the scenes in which the actor’s stranded British soldier was chased through a council tower block by IRA foot soldiers that gave him the most to do.

From calming a small girl who finds him clutching a knife as he hides in her home, to hopelessly waiting for an IRA soldier to leave the tower’s stairwell (and that scene’s inevitable conclusion), O’Connell portrayed more with his face than many actors manage over an entire film.

13 | Quicksilver’s breakout – X-Men: Days of Future Past

For a bloated installment of a tiring franchise, Days of Future Past was surprisingly enjoyable. The best bit was probably Evan Peter’s cameo as Quicksilver, who helps break Michael Fassbender’s Magneto out of jail by running between a set of prisoner wardens at lightning speed, redirecting their bullets and generally causing mayhem.

Ingeniously shot and excellent fun: more of that please, Never-Ending Trend For Comic Book Films.

12 | Leo off his box – The Wolf Of Wall Street

Comedy isn't the first thing you associate with Martin Scorsese or Leonardo Di Caprio, but between them, in The Wolf Of Wall Street, they pulled off possibly the funniest scene of the year when Jordan Belfort unwittingly takes some very strong drugs and goes into what he describes, with classic Eighties political incorrectness, as a 'cerebral palsy' stage. Laugh out loud physical comedy from this pair. Who knew?  

11 | Philip Seymour Hoffman loses it with America – A Most Wanted Man

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Less the tense thriller it hoped to be and more one long, sad goodbye to the greatest actor of his age, A Most Wanted Man’s best scene was its final one when Hoffman’s clapped-out German spy Günther Bachmann realises he’s been played by Robin Wright’s American diplomat Sullivan, who brings down the mighty fist of the USA to scupper his carefully constructed espionage mission.

All the frustration and passion Gunther has been burying under booze erupts for a short, telling moment as you once again gasp at how good Hoffman truly was.

10 | Brad Pitt’s 50-year-old six pack – Fury

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Midway through David Ayer’s brutal depiction of World War II tanks blowing each other to pieces, the action pauses for an oddly tense scene in which ‘Wardaddy’ and his deranged crew play house with two petrified German maidens.

It's supposed to illustrate the struggle between empathy and brutality but really, you’re still marveling at the half century-old perfect torso Brad Pitt has just showed off as he shaves.

9 | Guy Pearce gets his dog back – The Rover

David Michod’s Aussie dystopia was a brooding, atmospheric 2014 highlight that took itself just a little bit too seriously. That is, until the final scene, when you discover the reason former solider Eric (Pearce) is prepared to chase his stolen car for miles and kill men in cold blood to get it back is that is contains his dead pet dog. Then the whole thing actually seems rather funny.

8 | “How many sugars do you take?” – Starred Up

Jack O’Connell’s volatile young offender Eric Love threatens to “slosh” Rupert Friend’s prison guidance counsellor with a mixture of boiled sugar and water, after recounting his history of abuse at the hands of a range of foster parents – giving the question “how many sugars do you take?” a whole new meaning.

A stand out scene that manages to be heartbreaking, thoroughly intimidating and – due to O’Connell’s great sense of timing – funny.

7 | The return of the ‘shaggin’ wagon’ – Dumb & Dumber To

Expectations could barely have been lower for this Farrelly Brothers sequel, but to near-boundless delight the film was one long glorious in-joke for fans of the original and one of the funniest films of the year.

The highlight? A wonderful case of expectation-twisting (and a canny metaphor for critics) when the pair find their dog car from the first film, tear off triumphantly and promptly trash it within seconds.

6 | The soundtrack to a life – Boyhood

There's a reason Richard Linklater's 12-year passion project has earned a place on many critics' "best-of-year" lists. Touching, funny and honest, the tale of Mason Jr's (Ellar Coltrane) coming of age drama was a film made up of stand-out scenes, from the forced cutting of Mason's hair to his weekend camping retreat with his father Mason Sr (Ethan Hawke).

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The film's music is yet another place where Linklater excels, sound-tracking protagonist Mason Jr’s life with year-appropriate songs throughout, from Wilco to Yo La Tengo. The most memorable moment comes when Ethan Hawke’s Mason Sr presents Jr with a Beatles mixtape for his fifteenth birthday. Dubbed “The Black Album”, the compellation features the best of Paul, John, George and Ringo post-breakup and was inspired by Hawke’s real life gift to his daughter. You didn’t get that in Transformers.

5 | The blow job from hell – Gone Girl

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The final third of David Fincher’s l-o-n-g domestic drama was, by his own admission, slightly surreal, but even by those standards the moment when Rosamund Pike’s dead-eyed Amy Elliott-Dunne first fellates and then brutally murders her captive (Desi, played by Neil Patrick Harris) is something of a shocker, leaving you in no further doubt as to whether she is, in fact, 100% crazy.

4 | Gyllenhaal's home invasion – Nightcrawler

In Lou Bloom, Jake Gyllenhaal has found a new Patrick Bateman. Simmering throughout the film under a verbal façade of motivational clichés, it's often Bloom's actions that reveal the darkest depths of his character. There are hints of his troubled psyche throughout, but it's the scene when Bloom arrives at a home-invasion-turned-multiple-murder before the police that stands out.

Creeping from room to room like a coyote searching for carrion, Bloom's only reaction to the dead and dying bodies is to find a better camera angle. A disturbing and unblinking portrayal of a true sociopath by an award-worthy Jake Gyllenhaal. 

3 | McConaughey gives us ‘all the feels’. Again.  – Interstellar

A man who could lend gravitas to an advert for toiletry disinfectant should his career ever somehow sink that low, last year’s Oscar winner certainly injected some heart into Christopher Nolan’s fantastically preposterous sci-fi epic, most notably when returning from a ten minute journey to a distant plant that passed in decades back on earth, and watched successful desperate video messages from his daughter as she grows older before his eyes.

When he cries, you cry: fact.

2 | "I will be clean" – 12 Years A Slave 

One of the many great achievements of Steve McQueen's historical drama about slavery, which came out in the UK in January, was introducing the world to Lupita Nyong'o, who would go on to win an extremely well-deserved Oscar for Best Actress. In this scene where she pleads to be allowed a simple bar of soap, her character Patsey seems to encapsulate all the cruelty, frustration and disbelief with which we now view the darkest chapter in American history.

1 | Scarlett Johansson becomes a white van man – Under The Skin

Jonathan Glazer’s adaptation of Michel Faber’s sci-fi novel saw the most implausible but inspired casting of the year as Hollywood bombshell Scarlett Johansson agreed to play an alien life form driving around Glasgow, picking up random men to entice to their doom with awkward small talk followed by a naked dance.

The scenes where she cruises around in a transit conversing with bewildered Scots (many of whom were civilians unaware they were being filmed) are one of this amazing film’s strange delights. Watch it immediately.

Any we've missed?


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